In Portland, there's no more zeitgeist-y union of substances than the one between delicious natural wine and green mother cannabis.
By natural wine, we mean wine made with minimal intervention in the cellar, ideally using grapes grown organically or biodynamically, and with fewer additives like sugar or sulfites. It might seem like this is how all wine is made—after all, wine labels don't contain ingredient lists—but I assure you, a lot of the commercial wine on the market has more ingredients than a pack of Ding Dongs. Natural (or natural-ish) wines serve as a kind of counterpoint to the mass-produced wines so commonly produced in America, and Oregon is a real hotbed for natural-leaning winemakers right now, which we've profiled at length here at WW.
But how, then, does wine hang out with cannabis, Oregon's other great natural resource? Neither one is strictly an upper or a downer, and both can make you feel buzzed, stoked, chilled or checked out in equal measure. But when done mindfully, a cannabis and delicious wine pairing offers an unrivaled spectrum of flavor experiences.
Andrea Occhipinti "Alea Rosa" paired with Jesus OG Tincture by Cascadia Herbals at Portland Best Buds
Start your journey with a floral, complex Italian rosé ($25 at vineyardgate.com) that already naturally evokes cannabis tincture in its flavor profile. Andrea Occhipinti makes beautiful wines on the slopes of Lake Bolsena, an hour or so north of Rome. Producing just 15,000 bottles annually, Occhipinti is known for his pioneering work reviving the oft-overlooked Aleatico grape.
Good rosé—not the ice-cold plonk we've all chugged on a hot summer day—can evoke a field of spring flowers, cool breezes and complex flavor memories. So, too, can dank tincture, and Cascadia Herbals makes some of the most delicious tinc in Oregon, concentrating on not just the THC, but also the terpenes.
Radikon "Jakot" orange wine with Purple Wreck flower from Serra Cannabis
Wine is supposed to be red, white or pink. Weed is supposed to be, y'know, green. But what if we just said "fuck it" and drank and smoked our way through the outer reaches of the color spectrum? I invite you to do so with this pairing, which takes an iconic orange wine from master Oslavian producer Stanko Radikon (RIP), and pairs it with CGC certified Purple Wreck flower.
The wine comes from the grape Tocai Friulano ($46 from Division Wines), vinified with skins on for up to 40 months in barrels. The result is a deep amber orange with heaps of dry pucker fruit, like almonds and Turkish apricots. It is an absolute mindfuck of a genre defining wine and a must for budding wine geeks.
Purple Wreck offers lots of sweetness and lots of funk—Wreck is a hybrid of Purple Urkle and Trainwreck—with a grassy, barnyard note throughout the smoke that pairs nicely with the wine.
Smock Shop Band "Atavus" Gewurztraminer with Gron Chocolate Macadamia Nut bar from Kings of Canna
Pairing edibles with wine feels fairly obvious—At a recent tasting at Liner & Elsen, I was blown away by this multi-year solera Gewurztraminer ($69.99) from Smock Shop Band, the buzzy new wine label from Hiyu Wine Farm out in the Gorge. This wine, holy shit, is like a big, unfolding flavor bomb of sweet and savory flavors, big round oranges and crisp acidic lemons, with heaps of depth from the multi-year process and an underlying piquant freshness.
To pair it with a smokable would be chill, but my mind is on the lovely macadamia milk chocolate bar from Gron. If you're enjoying Atavus as a last glass of the night, or drinking it at the end of a tasting, the contrasting sweet and round flavors from the chocolate hang out and morph with the wine notes nicely.
Swick Wines "Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel" with Pachecos Stryder ciga-weed by Eco Firma
Joe Swick is a fifth generation Oregonian, born and raised in Portland, and it feels only right to shout out his wines here.
We're reaching new levels of zeitgeist fuckery with this pairing of a rosé pet-nat with a cigarette filter-tipped Pacheco joint. Swick's rosé pet-nat ($25 from Park Avenue Fine Wines) is a bottle-fermented sparkling wine very much en vogue right now. Pachecos are available in packs of three and five.
"Portland French" is a fallacy, but here we are: the sun, she eez shining and the wine, it flows like wine. A cigarette pour vous, of course, mai oui. But not any ordinary cigarette—this is a cigarette of weed, mon frere. Take a sip, take a puff and embrace the ennui.